SoundMAGIC is not the sort of company you'd find in the premiership of audio brands. A little-known Chinese manufacturer, previously best known as an OEM, it hasn't got the mass recognition of the likes of a Sony, Philips or Koss, nor the audiophile kudos of a Sennheiser,Shure or Denon. The earphones it produces aren't as stylish as those from SkullCandy, Jays or V-Moda, and they aren't seen as being as innovative as those from Etymotic, Ultimate Ears or Klipsch. Why, then, should you want to know or care anything about them?
Simple - bang for buck. I first became aware of SoundMAGIC a few months ago when its breakout IEM, the PL30, started to generate a lot of interest on the usual headphone enthusiast sites and forums. The PL30s didn't come with the slickest packaging or the most luxurious accessories. They're not particularly well built, and - in my opinion - they've been bashed from the top of the ugly tree with the aid of an ugly stick and hit every ugly branch while falling down.
Nonetheless, they sound really good. In fact, they sound much better than any earphone costing under £30 has any right to sound, with solid but not dominant lows, a crisp mid-range, a nice, wide sound stage and fine, clear imaging at the top. While I'd take some reports that the PL30s compete with headphones costing four times as much with a pinch of salt, they can certainly go toe to toe with many big name models in the £60 to £80 price bracket.
All the hype made me curious as to what SoundMAGIC might do next, so when offered the chance to look at new earphones above and below the PL30, I said a big 'yes please'. A few weeks ago the PL11s arrived then, just last week, the PL50s. Can they match the PL30s on the bang for buck stakes? Let's find out.